Tuesday, March 13, 2012

THE FIRST TIME: PART FIFTEEN

"BILLY IDOL" - BILLY IDOL (1982)


In 1955, William Broad was born in Stanmore, Middlesex, England. His family moved to New York when William was two to pursue the American dream but the Broads returned to England four years later with his new baby sister, Jane in tow.

After completing a year of college at Sussex University for an English degree, Billy dropped out to join a gang of hardcore Sex Pistols fans who followed the band wherever they played. He shortly joined his first punk band as a guitarist and renamed himself, "Billy Idol" which was inspired from a teacher who described Billy as "idle". This band featured the future members of Siouxsie & The Banshees but Idol left to join another punk band, Chelsea in 1977.

Billy soon formed his own band with Chelsea band mate, Tony James, the bass player and added guitarist, Bob Andrews and Mark Laff on drums. They called themselves Generation X with Idol becoming the lead vocalist. Although they were very much a punk band but they were also influenced by the sounds of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Generation X signed with Chrysalis Records and recorded three albums, became one of the first punk bands to perform on the popular British television program, "Top Of The Pops" and were featured in the 1980 documentary,  "D.O.A." about the beginning of the punk movement before the group disbanded.

In 1981, Idol moved to New York to begin work as a solo artist. He first released a four-track EP called "Don't Stop" later that year with the purpose of generating some interest in the new rock artist. It featured a remake of Tommy James & The Shondells' hit, "Mony, Mony" and "Dancing With Myself" which was first recorded with his former band, Generation X.

The plan proved to be a success as there was high anticipation for his full-length, self-tilted debut released the following year. The first single, "Hot In The City" peaked at number twenty-three on the U.S. pop charts and although the next single, "White Wedding" only made it to number thirty-six but because of the popular music video, the song benefited by the influence of the new music channel, MTV. The video helped establish Idol's punk image and "White Wedding" has become his signature song.

His follow-up album, "Rebel Yell" in 1983 would become the biggest album of his career, selling well over two million copies. There were three hit singles with the ballad, "Eyes Without A Face" reaching number four on the charts.

After continued success over the next few years with the following albums, "Whiplash Smile" and the 1987 remix "Vital Idol", tragedy struck Billy Idol in 1990 as he was in a serious motorcycle accident in which he almost lost his leg and required a steel rod to be placed in it. Idol released "Charmed Life" later that year and despite his injuries, he went out to promote the album against his doctor's advice. The first single from the album, "Cradle of Love" would become Idol's highest charting, reaching number two on the pop charts.

Billy Idol has released seven studio albums to date including 1993's, "Cyberpunk" which was an experimental album and one of the first to be recorded using only a MAC computer and a Christmas album (?), "Happy Holidays" in 2006.

Billy Idol has never been married but has two children;  a son, William, born in 1988 with his long-time girlfriend, Perri Lister who was a dancer and appeared in the "White Wedding" video and a daughter, Bonnie Blue, who was born in 1989 from another relationship.

Check out Billy's first song to hit the U.S. charts:

 "Hot In The City" - Billy Idol (1982)

Here is the music video for "Dancing With Myself":



"BIG FUN" - SHALAMAR (1979)


Shalamar was originally created to capitalize on the popularity of the disco craze by Soul Train producer, Don Cornelius and the show's booker, Dick Griffey. The group was initially made up of session singers with Gary Mumford as the lead vocalist. Shalamar released their first album, "Uptown Festival" in 1975 with the title track, a melody of Motown hits set to a disco beat, that became a top forty pop hit in the U.S and Britain.

It was decided to add popular Soul Train dancers, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel with a new lead vocalist, Gerald Brown to the group and the new line-up released, "Disco Gardens" in 1978 on Dick Griffey's new label, SOLAR Records. The album had a hit song, "Take That To The Bank" that reached number eleven on the r&b charts. Brown, unhappy over a lack of payment, left Shalamar and was replaced by Howard Hewett in 1979.

The group was teamed up for with producer, Leon Sylver III (who was a member of the r&b family singing group, The Sylvers) who co-wrote and produced their next album, "Big Fun" released later in '79. The second single, "The Second Time Around" became a smash hit, reaching number eight on the pop chart and topping the r&b and dance charts. Due to this single, the album went gold.

Shalamar would record four more successful studio albums (with three of them also selling over a half a million copies) that featured several hits songs including, "Make That Move", "A Night To Remember" and "This Is For The Lover In You".

Shortly after the release of the 1983 album, "The Look", Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel both decided to leave the group due to creative differences and their increasing frustrations with Dick Griffey and his label. Two new members were recruited, Delisa Davis and Miki Free, to join Howard Hewett in a new version of Shalamar.  In 1984, Shalamar released "Heartbreak" which featured a song, "Dancing In The Sheets" that was also featured on the soundtrack to the hit film, "Footloose" and it brought the group back to the top twenty of the pop charts.

Hewett left Shalamar the following year to pursue a solo career and was replaced by singer, Sydney Justin but after two disappointing albums, the group faded away by 1990.

Howard Hewett has recorded ten solo albums to date with his debut, "I Commit To Love" being his most successful which featured two top-ten r&b hits. Hewett has been married three times; he married Mari Molina in 1986 but divorced two years later. He then wedded actress/singer Nia Peeples in 1989 and they have a son, Christopher but the couple separated by 1993. Hewett is currently married to wife, Angela and they have a daughter, Anissa.

Even before he joined Shalamar, Jeffrey Daniel was a renowned and respected dancer. He is credited for popularizing West Coast street dance movement which included popping, locking and robotics. During a performance of "A Night To Remember" on the British show, "Top Of The Pops", Daniel performed a dance move he called, "The Backslide". Michael Jackson had been a fan of Daniel's since he was on "Soul Train" and sought him out to teach him that move. Jackson premiered the dance on the "Motown 25" television special and it was renamed "The Moonwalk". Daniel became a sought after choreographer and dancer on a variety of film and television projects and worked with Jackson again on the "Bad" and "Smooth  Criminal" music videos. Jeffrey Daniel is currently a judge on the "Nigerian Idol" music competition program. He married r&b singer, Stephanie Mills in 1980 but they separated shortly after.

Jody Watley is clearly the most successful of all of the former members of Shalamar with her winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1987. She released nine studio albums with six top-ten U.S. pop hits, eight top-ten r&b singles (including two at number one), seven number one songs on the dance chart and has sold well over fifty million albums worldwide. Watley married singer/writer/producer, Andre Cymone but the marriage ended in 1994 and she has two children.

This popular line-up of Shalamar has only come together once in 1996 to record background vocals to Babyface's cover of the band's hit, "This Is For The Lover In You" and also appeared in the music video of the song.

Enjoy Shalamar's first big single:

 "The Second Time Around" - Shalamar (1979)

This is a vintage music video for one of my favorite Shalamar songs, "A Night To Remember":

 

"FLOWING RIVERS" - ANDY GIBB (1977)


He was born Andrew Roy Gibb in 1958, the youngest of  five children of Hugh and Barbara Gibb. His siblings were sister, Lesley and brothers, (who would later be known to the world as part of the singing group, The Bee Gees) Barry and twins, Maurice and Robin. The family moved to Australia six months after Andy was born but they returned to England in 1967 when The Bee Gees, already finding some success down under, were looking to further their music career.

As a teenager, Andy formed his own singing group, Melody Fayre, which was managed by his mother, and they performed around clubs in England and Spain. In 1974, Andy returned to Australia to further pursue his career due to the advice of brother, Barry who felt it was a good location to sharpen his skills as a musician.

Andy recorded a single, "Words and Music" for ATA Records and it would reach the top-twenty of the Australian charts in 1976. Robert Stigwood, who was the manager of The Bee Gees, signed Gibb to his label, RSO Records and was soon in Miami working on his first album, writing with Barry and with producers, Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson.

"I Just Want To be Your Everything" was the first single and kicked things off with a bang, with the song hitting number one in Australia and the U.S in 1977. The follow-up single, "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" also went to number one which together helped Andy Gibb's debut album, "Flowing Rivers" sell well over a million copies. This success was happening around the same time as his brothers' group, The Bee Gees were conquering the charts with their contributions to the soundtrack of the film, "Saturday Night Fever".

Andy Gibb's second album, "Shadow Dancing" was released in 1978 with the title track (written by all four of the Gibb brothers) spending seven weeks at number one on the U.S. pop charts. Two other singles, "An Everlasting Love" and "(Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away" both made it to the top-ten on the charts and Gibb had another million selling album.

In 1980, "After Dark" was Andy's third studio album released and while this was not as successful as his previous albums but it did contain a top-twenty hit, "I Can't Help It", a duet with family friend, Olivia Newton-John and what would be his final top-ten song, "Desire".

Shortly after this album, Gibb began pursing other career opportunities such as acting in theater with the shows, "The Pirates of Penzance" and "Joesph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", co-hosting the musical variety show, "Solid Gold" with Marilyn McCoo of The 5th Dimension and began a high-profile romance with actress, Victoria Principal who was best known for the night-time soap opera, "Dallas". However, Gibb was fired from both "Joseph" and the television program because of excessive absences as well as Principal ending their relationship, all due to his drug binges.

Andy's family convinced him to seek treatment and he went to the Betty Ford Clinic for help. After his stint in rehab, Gibb attempted to resume his career with concerts and television appearances. He also went back in to the recording studio working with his brothers on new material.

On March 5th, 1988, Andy Gibb was celebrating his thirtieth birthday when he complained of chest pains. He was rushed to the hospital but five days later, Gibb died of myocarditis, an inflammation of a heart muscle caused by a viral infection.

Andy Gibb was married to Kim Reeder in 1976 and had a daughter, Peta Jaye in 1978 but the couple divorced later that year.

This is Andy Gibb's first hit single:

 "I Just Want To be Your Everything" - Andy Gibb (1977)

Here is a clip of the youngest Gibb brother performing one of  his biggest hits, "Shadow Dancing":":

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